- Nicolas Sarkozy found guilty of illegal campaign financing
- The former president gets a year in prison
- Sarkozy is not likely to spend time in prison
PARIS, Sept. 30 (Reuters) – Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to one year in prison on Thursday by a Paris court after being found guilty of illegal campaign financing following his unsuccessful candidacy for election. 2012 re-election.
Sarkozy, 66, is unlikely to go to jail. He has decided to appeal the sentence, a decision that effectively suspends him, and the judge said he can serve the sentence at home with an electronic tag.
But the second conviction this year for Sarkozy is a meteoric fall from grace for the man who ruled France from 2007 to 2012 and retains influence with conservatives.
The two convictions could force Sarkozy to play a more discreet role in next year’s presidential election. He had not planned to be a candidate, but as a popular right-wing figure he would have to support his party’s candidate.
According to prosecutors, Sarkozy’s conservative party spent nearly double the 22.5 million euros (currently $ 19.2 million) allowed by the electoral law on extravagant election rallies, then hired a public relations agency friendly to hide the cost.
Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing. He said he was not involved in the logistics of his campaign for a second term as president or how the money was spent during the election period. Read more
“Can you imagine me going to a meeting to discuss the cost of the flags?” He told the court in June. “I had too much to do.
“From the moment I was told things were in order, I had no reason to think more about it.”
But the court said Sarkozy had been made aware of the overspending, failed to act on it, and did not need to approve each individual expense to be responsible.
Several other people facing charges have been convicted of campaign finance fraud and sentenced to up to 3.5 years in prison and heavy fines.
Sarkozy was convicted in a separate trial in March of attempting to bribe a judge and influence peddling in order to obtain confidential information about a judicial inquiry. He also denied any wrongdoing in this case. Read more
The former president was sentenced to three years in prison during this trial – including two suspended sentences – but has not yet spent any time in prison, while his appeal is pending.
This did not prevent presidential candidates from competing for the vote of his supporters.
Conservatives Xavier Bertrand, Valérie Pécresse and Michel Barnier – who all hope to be backed as the Conservatives’ candidate – each sent “a message of friendship” to Sarkozy via Twitter, saying they supported his decision to appeal.
“He knows he can count on me,” said Bertrand, who leads his rivals in the polls.
The son of a Hungarian immigrant father, Sarkozy made his political debut as mayor of the affluent district of Neuilly, outside central Paris, before becoming finance minister under President Jacques Chirac.
As president, Sarkozy’s forceful style and abrasive manner has polarized voters. His modest attempts at tax and labor reforms and his limited success in creating jobs have disappointed both liberals and centrist voters.
Outside of France, he negotiated a ceasefire in the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, and in 2011 defended a NATO-led military intervention in Libya to support an uprising against its autocratic leader, Muammar Gaddafi .
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Reporting by Tangi Salaun, written by Ingrid Melander, editing by Timothy Heritage
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